Tough Q4 for Radio One (audio)


Radio OneNet revenues shot up 37.8% to $98.1 million in Q4 for Radio One, but that was due to the consolidation of TV One, which had not been majority owned a year earlier. Net revenues from the radio segment declined 9.4% to $54.2 million, due in part to being an off-year for elections.

Excluding political/issue advertising, radio still fell 4.2%, while Radio One’s markets were down 3.8%. Reach Media revenues were up 13% to $10.5 million. Interactive division revenues were up 30.5% to $4.8 million. TV One revenues were up 8.7% to $31.3 million.

Radio net revenues were up in Cincinnati, Raleigh and St. Louis, but down in Baltimore, Columbus, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins told analyst it was a tough quarter, but one in which the company made some changes – including format flips – which have set the stage for better times in 2012.

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According to Liggins, Arbitron’s PPM measurement system has “shrunk the market for Urban radio,” which is why Radio One has changed formats on some stations – including launching an All-News FM in Houston. That format, he noted, allows for selling 24 units per hours, which he characterized as “an inventory machine” which helped with pricing in the market.

Liggins noted that his radio stations had to respond to rate pressure from Clear Channel’s new “Best Rate” centralized inventory management system. “They’ve got a bunch of guys in San Antonio with computers acting like an airline reservation system. It’s not controlled at the station level now, it’s controlled centrally in San Antonio, but they’re using technology to lower rates faster than anybody else,” Liggins said of the competitor. That he said, hurt Radio One particularly in Houston in the first half of 2011. “We figured out a pricing strategy to combat that,” he said.